Week Two: Scotland’s Finest

This second week of touring Scotland’s finest has definitely exceeded our expectations as much as the first. The weather was just as beautiful… with only one crazy 3 season day while we are Edinburgh Castle, our first stop in the nation’s capitol.  This castle was one of the largest in expanse and just as noble as it was the royal palace for Scotland’s nobility and where the crown jewels are displayed.   Here we were treated to seeing a ‘changing of the guard’ and viewed the expansive city as it spread far below the castle walls. 

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Einburgh Castle

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After our tour of the castle, we headed down to see J.K. Rowling’s old haunt as she penned Harry’s adventures at the Elephant House nearby.  Although the seating was all full, we did get a chance to snap a quick pic outside!

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Elephant House

Walking along the ROYAL MILE seems to be close to what walking down a street in England would be like –  business’ close together, living quarters stacked high above on century old foundations and lots of people walking on the city streets with moderate traffic heading at you the wrong way. 

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Royal Mile

Wednesday brought on the William Wallace Memorial and Bannockburn Historic Museums where we relived the climatic battles which brought Scotland together to fight united against England.  It was quite an experience to reenact the Battle of Bannockburn and become an English or Scottish general directing their troops into battle.  As for individuals who inspire public virtue and self sacrifice… William Wallace was a man who gave his countrymen quite a start in freedom.  This chap below certainly inspired my kiddos with his excellent retelling of Wallace’s legacy and Sam even got to wield a real Claymore sword!

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Now that's the fighting spirit!
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I'm sure Sam was more excited to handle this sword than his face reflects 🙂

Several days a week, Travis, Samantha and I are up typically for early morning runs at the nearby Calendar Park (okay, so Travis has way more running time logged, but we do run there :).  If you could imagine the forest that Little Red Riding Hood took a walk in, this would be it.  There are many running paths and thanks to my parents, the park is a lot cleaner than it used to be…to date they have transferred out thirty…one bags of trash (and one chair)!  Grandpa has recruited Samuel and the young girls to help with collection and they are doing a wonderful job while they can help out.  Here’s the Callendar House which is just one of the beautiful centerpieces that highlight the park.

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Our last official touring day began with a wonderful visit to a local farm where they share their knowledge of sheep herding and the how to succeed raising sheep in today’s economy.  I believe I mentioned earlier in last week’s blog that there are more sheep in Scotland than people;  we of course were under the belief that the wool market must be extremely profitable for it to be a leading export of Scotland, boy were we surprised when we the owner let out their profit margin comes from the meat instead of the coat.  They actually end up in the red during the process of shearing a sheep and receive little for the actual wool!  SO… in the end there was quite a bit of empathy for those wee lambs as they suddenly felt very, very vulnerable.

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The real deal with sheep farming...

The last castle we visited was Doune Castle.  It was made famous from its use in the film, “Monte Python’s Search for the Holy Grail.”  It has been one of the most memorable as well as it even boasts its own Hobbit Hole where the kids quickly made use of its inner passage to exit out the far side.  Several pieces of furniture were made from a single oak tree which had been struck by lightning back in 1837, here is one of the 4 chairs and a full 10′ table which all came from its wood! I’m also including a glimpse of the natural staircases which we were able to ascend and descend without much difficulty – however, I’m pretty sure the ladies back then had a much less enjoyment as they wouldn’t have been able to see where their feet were on the stairs!

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The endless staircases...
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Intricate carvings!
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Their own hobbit hole!
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Our bonnie family pic!
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Scotland's beautiful landscape! Try not to think of those wee lambs too fondly 🙂
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